HSE leaves vulnerable communities in distress after decision to reshuffle public health nurses
By Mary Dennehy
THE HSE has been accused of putting politics before people after it made a decision to reshuffle locally based public health nurses – leaving vulnerable, ageing communities in distress.
In 2006, Michael Gleeson suffered four major strokes and has since been cared for by his wife Joy in their Saggart home.
Michael and Joy, who at the age of 77 are married 56 years, have for the past decade received care and support from the same public health nurse – who has served the district of Saggart, Newcastle, Rathcoole and Brittas for more than 15 years.
However, their nurse was two weeks ago “reshuffled” out of the community following a HSE decision to reconfigure the public health nurses and registered general nurses within four primary care teams across Dublin West.
Since the HSE decision, more than 1,000 signatures have been collected from across Saggart, Rathcoole, Brittas and Newcastle, with residents, many of whom are elderly, lobbying local politicians and HSE management to reverse the move.
Joy told The Echo: “Michael suffers with dementia and Parkinson’s-related dementia and since he had his stroke our public health care nurse has been invaluable to us.
“Not only did our nurse care for Michael, who trusted her and was comfortable with her, but when I was floundering she cared for me too and stepped in with practical help – and organised our care package, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, incontinence pads and much more.
“This nurse gave us all so much comfort and care and she’s even held people’s hands as they passed away.”
She added: “It’s so sad that a nurse who has given so many years to a community, and such a high quality of care to people she is so familiar with, can simply be transferred by somebody sitting behind a HSE desk.
“This is just a swipe of a pen to the HSE but for the aging families living in the area, this is huge.
“The HSE has put politics before people and while we’ve been told new nurses are coming into the area, all of whom I’m sure are very capable, it just doesn’t make sense for the HSE to be removing experience and knowledge out of communities.
“These nurses that the HSE are shuffling around are more than just numbers to the communities they serve, they are our carers, our life-lines, our friends, our voices and they know the needs of their patients.”
According to Joy, residents did contact the HSE for a meeting but their request was not met.
Independent councillor Deirdre O’ Donovan said: “These nurses provide a very personal, intimate type of care that has to be acknowledged by the HSE.
“The HSE should have shown a little bit of commonsense here, some humanity, but instead they made a decision, without any consultation, that affects vulnerable people who have now been left in huge distress.
“The continued quality of care of these families should be at the fore of the HSE mind but once again all the HSE is considering is process and procedure instead of quality care.”
When contacted by The Echo, the HSE said: “A work-load analysis was completed to ensure that the department has a manageable system of Public Health Nursing, oriented around patients’ needs and based on making the best use of the available resource. This has resulted in the redeployment of some nursing staff as necessary.
“The changes being implemented provide the basis for improved ways of working and supports, meeting patients’ care needs in a joined-up way, with the emphasis on care delivery at Primary Care level.”